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The Stacked Deck

May 6th, 2013 Posted in Economics by

There’s a great discussion regarding income/wealth equality over at Cafe Hayek and Bleeding Heart Libertarians:

I care – very deeply – whether the process for pursuing one’s life’s goals is fair or not.  I want everyone to have as fair a chance in the economy as is humanly possible.  I despise special privileges that stack the deck either in favor of Jones or against Smith.  (We can have a debate about what the details of “fair process” and “special privileges” look like, but this post is not the place for such a debate.)  But I do not care about differences in monetary income or wealth as such.

If (by whatever criteria) the process is fair, then the outcomes are fair.  If the process is not fair, then at least some outcomes are lamentable.  If those lamentable outcomes involve too little income for Smith and too much for Jones, then this income difference is evidence of the unfair or skewed or crony-fied process.  But the object of my concern in such situations isn’t the income difference as such; rather, it’s the unfair or skewed or crony-fied process that gave rise to it.

I’m all for correcting the process, and would be no less in favor of correcting the process if I were told that such a correction will increase income inequality as I would be in favor of correcting the process if I were told that such a correction will decrease income inequality.  Again, income differences can at best serve as evidence of a problem; the differences themselves – the income inequalities themselves – are not the core problem.

Interesting stuff.

One Response to “The Stacked Deck”

  1. Jack Hughes Says:

    Wow. Some great comments there as well.